One night last week after the evening lecture, I was walking back to my pickup when I realized that the man in front of me was Ryan Parsons. We visited for a while, and eventually the conversation turned to social media and the best strategies to use it for the cause of Christ. I confessed that I knew very little about the potential for social media and how some of it, Twitter in particular, frustrated me. I told him that I use Facebook, but that I didn’t think we in the church were utilizing it to its potential. He told me that most young adults didn’t use Facebook (which I already suspected) and that there was no social media platform that works across the board.
As frustrating as that is, it’s no surprise. Social media is nothing more than high-tech tools to help us connect with people we want to connect to without having to interact with those that we don’t. That desire is as ancient as civilization itself. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. didn’t create social networks; people did. Each of these tools have in common the assumption that you and I already have a network of friends that we want to reach out to or keep in touch with. The very act of using any one of them not only lets you engage with friends, but intentionally isolates you from everyone but your friends. Therefore, an inherent weakness or strength (depending on your viewpoint) that all these platforms share is the network of friends that you have.
Rehoboam found his life’s circumstances undergo a dramatic change once his father died. Overnight, he went from heir apparent to the actual king of the 12 tribes of Israel. He inherited a crown and a well-established government with a network of civil servants who knew a lot more about what works and doesn’t work than he did. Rehoboam briefly listened to the advice of his father’s social network but soon rejected them in favor of his own social network. It wasn’t his best idea (1 Kings 12:1-15).
Flash forward to the days of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, and Ahab, king of Israel. Jehoshaphat came to Samaria to meet with Ahab for a council of war against the king of Aram. Ahab wanted Jehoshaphat to ally his armies with Ahab’s. Jehoshaphat was agreeable so long as the Lord willed it. He insisted they consult a man of God (a prophet of God). Ahab responded with 400 prophets who assured the kings that God was on their side. Yet, it was clear to Jehoshaphat they weren’t really prophets of God; and so he asked if there was no prophet of God in Israel. Ahab admitted that there was one, but the prophet Micaiah wasn’t in his network (i.e., they weren’t Facebook friends, didn’t follow one another on Twitter, never did the Snapchat or Instagram thing with each other) because Micaiah didn’t say what Ahab wanted to hear. That didn’t turn out well for Ahab (1 Kings 22).
Paul said bad companions corrupt good morals (1 Cor. 15:33). This is a universal and timeless truth. The very people we include in our social network influence our thinking and behavior.
And that brings me back to the church…
The church will never be strong in any location when its members prefer a social network exclusive of the local church. The Lord intends for the local church to be strong (Eph. 6:10) and thus equipped the church with a social network that allows us to attain a unity of faith, knowledge, maturity, and stature which “belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:11-13). When every member is an engaged part of this divinely chosen social network, the local church will draw new people from all walks of life (Acts 2:42). Would you “friend” me?
Keep studying and keep serving! DC Brown ©2015